I’ve been asked to give a talk tonight at a National Union of Journalists meeting in London about how the web can help journalists find work and do their job better. It got me thinking about the role of personal branding in such a profession. Last year a Washington Post journalist was scathing about the role of branding in journalism, suggesting that it was prompting many to put fame before product.
Of course the world should reward the brightest and most talented amongst us. It should, but it often doesn’t. I’m sure we all have examples in our own small sphere of people that have either achieved undeserving praise or promotions, whilst a talented individual languishes in the ether, unheard of and unloved.
You see life is often a matter of salience. We can only laud those whom we know. We can’t promote someone whose talents are hidden from us. It goes without saying that you can’t get by without hard work and talent, but that isn’t enough. Networking and personal branding brints you and your talents into contact with more people, and ensures you keep in contact with them. Thus if/when they need someone with your skills, it’s you they think of first of all. It becomes a virtuous circle. The more visible your brand becomes, the higher your status in your niche becomes, which in turn makes it easier to further grow that brand.
Now I won’t bog this post down with lots of tactical suggestions, such as you why you should get a Contently account or ensure your details are correctly configured to Google Author, but here are 5 tips to ensure your personal branding goes in the right direction.
5 personal branding tips for journalists
- Be yourself – The beauty of social media for us mortals is that it allows us to get to know the people that we hadn’t previously been able to. Whilst it’s likely that your employer will have a social media presence, good personal branding gives your readers a chance to engage with you as an individual.
- Interact with the audience – Being able to comment on articles used to be the preserve of blogs, but now most publications offer the ability to leave comments on an article. This gives you a great opportunity to both learn what chimes with your readership, and to cultivate your following. It’s sad that so few journalists interact with their readers via comments. Bloggers do it, and so should you.
- Manage your community – If you write great stuff and engage with your readers it’s likely that you’ll develop a community of followers that love your content. This is crucial because once you have a community they will follow you rather than your employer.
- Be on top of the trends – Every journalist needs their sources. With the web you can easily see what’s breaking as it breaks, so it pays to have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your niche.
- Keep at it – Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your brand be. It takes time to cultivate the following and image you’ll want in order to be successful, so don’t expect to see success straight away. Work at it though and you will hopefully see the fruits of your labour.
There are my five key branding tips for journalists. Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and if you have any other tips, do please share them.